Stage Lighting Electrical Testing

Stage Lighting Systems – Electrical Testing


Our engineers have been undertaking this type of specialist electrical installation work for over 20 years and understand the complexity and challenges of these installations.

Where relevant, our engineers have the appropriate electrical qualifications, have undergone working at heights training, ECS or CSCS health and safety cards, PASMA and IPAF certification and when working in educational establishments have current DBS certificates for safeguarding.

We offer the following services –
Full venue Electrical Installation Condition Reports (EICR) including dimmers, non-dim circuits, independent circuits, patch bays, technical power, sound power, temporary large power outlets, blue lights, working lights, and integrated house lighting systems.
Stage Theatre Lighting Electrical Installation Condition Reports from the dimmers to the high level lighting bars and socket boxes.
Functional testing of control systems, dimmers, power switching.

The dimmers or control racks are classified as a distribution board and therefore the electrical wiring from the dimmers to all outgoing circuits on the lighting bars and socket boxes should be periodically inspected and tested. Following an EICR inspection, our qualified engineers will issue a condition report which will state compliance or non-compliance with the current version of BS 7671.

Technical Document: Otago Blue Ltd – Service and Testing of Theatre Lighting Systems

Frequently asked questions

Question: Is it a legal requirement to test stage lighting?
Answer: Undertaking regular inspection, service and certification will help comply with the below regulations.
The Health & Safety at Work Act 1974
The Electricity at Work Act 1989
Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 (LOLER)effect lifting equipment such as raise / lower lighting bars, hemps and winch sets.
Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER) states it is an employers duty to ensure work equipment is maintained and safe to use.

Question: Does our five-year site electrical test cover the stage lighting installation?
Answer: Commercial and educational establishments will have a five yearly ‘Electrical Installation Condition Report’ undertaken of the whole site by an insurance company or approved electrical contractor. However in our twenty year experience we have studied these huge files and almost always see the documented word ‘Limitation’ or LIM next to these systems due to electronic equipment, non standard round pin sockets or mounted above 2m from the floor.
Stage lighting systems are specialist installations that require in depth knowledge so as not to damage equipment and also involve additional hazards such as working at height. If a specialist contractor has not recently inspected the site we would advise checking with your site manager to check the paperwork without delay. It is a requirement of BS7671 to place a ‘next inspection’ label on the electrical distribution board or dimmer in the venue.

Question: How often does our system need testing?
Answer: The frequency of inspection and testing is often dictated by insurance companies or local licensing authorities.
The Electrical Installation Condition Report requires the inspecting engineer to recommend a next inspection interval and this will depend on a number of factors including the type of equipment, condition, age, environment and type of use. The service internal should also be in conjunction with a risk based site assessment. In simple terms, a theatre that has many touring shows in each week requires more frequent inspection than a school drama studio where the lights are rigged and never moved.
In general, for an educational establishment with a new installation with hard-wired dimmers we would recommend it has a full EICR inspection every five years with interim visual and operational inspections. However for a 20 year old installation with cord-patch distribution tails we would recommend an annual EICR inspection.

Question: How long does it take?
Answer: For an EICR inspection the length of time depends and the number of outgoing circuits and how easy it is to access the socket outlets and whether previous documentation is available. During the inspection each individual socket outlet needs to be visited at least twice, firstly for the visual inspection and dead tests, then for the live and operational tests, therefore a lot of time is spent on moving access equipment. Most stage lighting systems vary from 24 channels to over 200 channels.

Question: What information is required to book an inspection?
Answer: We need to know the number of dimmers and/or number of electrical circuits from the local distribution board, number of socket outlets in venue at high and low level, working height of high level equipment and whether high level access is available such as powered access MEWP or access platform.
If you are unsure of this information then a selection of pictures showing the venue, dimmers, bars and socket boxes will generally give us most of the information. If you have any previous test documentation or layout plans that you can email with the enquiry all the better.